Access the latest, most up-to-date COVID-19 resources, policies, and news for faculty, students, and staff of the GTU, including guidance for staying safe as we reopen here>>

Faculty Directory

Sam S.B. Shonkoff

Director of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies and Taube Family Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies

Core Doctoral Faculty
At the GTU since
(510) 649-2488

Sam Shonkoff (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is the Taube Family Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at the GTU, where he teaches on Jewish religious thought, modern Jewish cultures, and methods in theology, ethics, and the historical-cultural study of religions. His research focuses primarily on German-Jewish thought and Hasidism, as well as appropriations of Hasidic spirituality in relatively secular spheres. Shonkoff’s current book project investigates themes of embodiment in Martin Buber’s representations of Hasidism vis-à-vis the original sources. He is co-editor with Ariel Evan Mayse of Hasidism: Writings on Devotion, Community and Life in the Modern World (Brandeis University Press, 2020) and the editor of Martin Buber: His Intellectual and Scholarly Legacy (Brill, 2018). He is also affiliated with the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics. Prior to joining the GTU in 2018, Shonkoff taught at Oberlin College and the University of Chicago.

Degrees and Certifications

PhD, with distinction, University of Chicago Divinity School, 2018 

MA, University of Toronto, 2011

BA, magna cum laude, Brown University, 2007

Research and Teaching Interests

German-Jewish thought

Hasidism and Neo-Hasidism

Philosophy of religion

Jewish hermeneutics

Formulations of dynamics between corporeality and spirituality

Selected Publications
  • “‘Corporeality, Not Spirituality’: Martin Buber’s Resistance at Eranos in 1934,” The Journal of Religion (forthcoming).

  • “‘We Shall Do and We Shall Understand’: Embodied Theology in Modern Judaism,” The Routledge Handbook of Religion and the Body, ed. Yudit Greenberg and George Pati (New York: Routledge, forthcoming).
  • Hasidism: Writings on Devotion, Community, and Life in the Modern World, ed. with Ariel Evan Mayse (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2020).
  • “What the Study of Religion Can Teach Us about Psychedelics,” Bill of Health (Harvard Law School, 2020).

  • “Martin Buber,” in A New Hasidism: Roots, ed. Arthur Green and Ariel Evan Mayse (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society and University of Nebraska Press, 2019), 51–64.

  • Martin Buber: His Intellectual and Scholarly Legacy, ed. (Leiden: Brill, 2018).
  • “Metanomianism and Religious Praxis in Martin Buber’s Hasidic Tales,” Religions 9.12 (special issue on Religion and Modern Jewish Thought, ed. Paul Mendes-Flohr, 2018).
  • “Michael Fishbane: An Intellectual Portrait," in Michael Fishbane: Jewish Hermeneutical Theology, ed. Aaron W. Hughes and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 1-52.
  • “Temples on Fire: Desert, Dust, and Destruction,” in Playa Dust: Collected Stories from Burning Man, ed. Samantha Krukowski (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2014), 176-183.
  • “The Two Tablets: On Dissolving Ethical-Theological Dualism in Sacred Attunement,” The Journal of Religion 93.4 (2013): 434-451
Courses Taught

Modern Judaisms: Religion, Culture, or Nationality?

Hasidic Mysticism

Introduction to Jewish Theology

Jewish Counterculture of the Sixties

Theology and Ethics departmental seminar